Build a Quadcopter Drone with a Self-leveling Camera Gimbal

There are essentially two configurations for a quadcopter: the “+” frame and the “X” frame. Here we’ve chosen to build an “X” frame so your onboard camera can have a clear forward view.

We’ll take you all the way from building the airframe to adding autonomous flight capability with ArduPilot. Once you’ve got it working, you could program this drone, for instance, to automatically visit a series of landmarks or other waypoints and take pictures of them.

Wiring Diagram: 

Step #1: Fabricate the body

Step #2: Cut and drill the booms

Step #3: Assemble the frame

Step #4: Wire the power hub

Step #5: Drill motor shaft clearances

Step #6: Mount the motors

Step #7: Add the landing gear

Step #8: Install the shock mounts

Step #9: Build the camera/ battery mount

Step #10: Mount the camera and battery

Step #11: Install the avionics

Step #12: Install the gimbal controller

Step #13: Configure the software


Don’t expect your quad to fly perfectly the first time. You’ll likely need to make some tweaks and adjustments before it flies well. If you’ve never flown a quad before, remember to work the controls gently, as most beginners tend to over-steer. Your first goal should be to hover about 24" off the ground for 1-2 seconds and then immediately land. Once you can do that consistently, try to take off, rise above the “ground effect” zone (3'-4’), and then land gently. Work your way up gradually to longer and higher flights.

It is likely that you will crash at some point, especially if this is your first multirotor. Keep a positive attitude, pay attention, and try to learn something every time. Crashing, learning, repairing, and improving your skills and your machine is part of the fun and challenge of the hobby.